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New president, trustees sworn in at bar’s annual meeting

By Amy Yarbrough
Staff Writer

Addressing a cheering crowd at the State Bar’s Annual Meeting San Jose last month, new president Luis J. Rodriguez noted that the start of his tenure couldn’t have been more perfectly timed.

Rodriguez swearing in
Luis J. Rodriguez, the first Latino president of the State Bar of California, gives his inaugural address at the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Jose. Also in the photo are outgoing President Patrick M. Kelly and Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye listen.
                                                                     Photo by S. Todd Rogers

The first Latino to lead the organization in its 87-year history, Rodriguez’s Oct. 12 swearing-in coincided with Día de la Raza, which celebrates the culture and heritage of Latin America. It also came just days after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a raft of bills affecting immigrants – including legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to get drivers’ licenses and making them eligible to practice law in California.

Rodriguez, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico with his parents as a child, said he sees his election as State Bar president to be far more than a historical asterisk.

“For me, my dream has become my reality,” Rodriguez said, as his brothers, wife, daughters and a large group of friends looked on. “This is not just symbolic, it is important – not just to me, but a lot of people.”

An attorney with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s office since 1994, Rodriguez, 46, is currently a division chief. He is a past president of the Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles and the California La Raza Lawyers Association.

In introducing Rodriguez, who will serve a one-year term, outgoing President Patrick M. Kelly called him a distinguished and caring member of the legal community.

“The reason Luis will make a difference is that he understands what it takes to truly be a leader in the community,” Kelly said.

During his speech Rodriguez asked the legal community for support and patience and cited among his concerns a shortfall in legal aid funding and the colossal debt faced by many law students. Despite some recent progress in Sacramento, he said it is critical that the legal community not back down in its fight for court funding.

 “In order to be a democracy, our three branches must be equal,” he said. “Without that, we don’t have justice.”

In addition to Rodriguez, Craig Holden of Los Angeles was sworn in as vice president and Heather Linn Rosing of San Diego was sworn in as treasurer during last month’s ceremony.

Moreno and family
Former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos R. Moreno, right, received the Bernard E. Witkin Medal. Standing next to him is his wife, Christine. On the left are two of their three children, Nicholas and Keiko.
                                                                      Photo by S. Todd Rogers

Five new board members also took the oath of office at the same time. Miriam Aroni Krinsky and Hernán Vera, both of Los Angeles, were appointed by the California Supreme Court. Daniel Dean of San Francisco and Joanna Mendoza of Granite Bay were elected by members in their districts, and Glenda Corcoran of Sacramento was appointed by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. All of the new members will serve three-year terms.

In addition, Dennis Mangers of Carmichael was sworn in for a second three-year term on the board. On Oct. 30, Gwen Moore of Los Angeles was reappointed by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez to serve through Sept. 1, 2016.

Also recognized at the ceremony was former California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno, who received the Bernard E. Witkin Medal. The award recognizes lawyers, judges and academics whose work has helped to shape the legal landscape.